Where have I been?
I like Manton’s Where have I been post and have had a pretty significant change in where I’ve visited since the start of the year, so I thought I’d make my own list.
As for what counts:
If I simply passed through in a car, train, or bus, it doesn’t count. If I was only there at an airport for a layover, it doesn’t count.
Everything else counts.
- United States
- The Netherlands
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
A while back I said I was going to get obsessed with Sarah Bernhardt (I seem to have said it somewhere other than my own website ☹️) but never followed through. But today I went to the Sarah Bernhardt exhibition at the Petit Palais and now I’m recommitting myself to this plan.
If you want to read about the exhibition, here are a couple articles:
- The Original Influencer Was French—A Show Dedicated to Sarah Bernhardt Celebrates the World’s First Superstar
- Why Actress Sarah Bernhardt Was the First Modern Celebrity
- Before Taylor Swift or David Bowie, There Was Sarah Bernhardt
Did you know Sarah Bernhardt was a goth multipotentialite? She acted, directed, sculpted, painted, wrote, ran a theatre, and led charity work. She had herself photographed in a coffin and was super into bats. And she was friends with Oscar Wilde. And she kept acting even after having her leg amputated and began her film career at age 56. I love her.
Content Warning: Suicide
There’s an AP news piece confirming what I suspected when I first saw Manton’s post about Heather Armstrong’s death.
Heather Armstrong, also known as dooce, was a prolific personal blogger, called “queen of the mommy bloggers,” a writer of books, a person who lived with depression and alcoholism. She was an early and high-profile example of someone who lost her job because of her blog. Her episode of The Hilarious World of Depression is one of my favorites. I didn’t read her blog consistently at all but I definitely read it both in some of its earliest days and in the past couple of years. She has been an influence on me without me even realizing it.
Armstrong leaves behind two children.
A little over sixteen years ago, my friend Sherrie died by suicide. It sent me into a big anxious spiral. Sherrie left behind a four-year-old son.
When my brother was a baby or toddler and I was fourteen or fifteen (and my sister was eight or nine), my mom had untreated hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, and depression. She had suicidal ideations. She later told me that she didn’t act on them because my brother needed her. She believed my sister and I would have been fine.
We would not have been fine.
Even though I know that she was listening to the lies depression tells, I felt angry hearing that we were not enough to stay alive for.
Depression makes me so angry. Suicide makes me so angry.
I, too, live with depression. It’s usually in remission.
Every day, I choose to live. Most of all for my son, but also for myself, for the rest of the family. I think about how angry I am when I hear someone has died by suicide. I think about how I don’t want the people I love to feel that anger. I think about how I don’t want them to be angry at me.
I don’t have a strong conclusion for this post. Depression is bullshit and I wish nobody ever had to deal with it.
Response to Charlie Jane Anders's "What the Universal Translator Tells Us About Exploring Other Cultures"
🔖📝📚📺🍿 Read What the Universal Translator Tells Us About Exploring Other Cultures by Charlie Jane Anders (Happy Dancing newsletter).
Anders talks about the way a universal translator gives us shortcuts to understanding other cultures that don’t really show how hard it is to actually understand another culture.
She offers a lot of examples of this and asks,
How is it that Han Solo understands Chewbacca, but doesn’t speak Wookiee himself? And vice versa?
It’s been a long time since I was getting my Master of Arts in teaching and had to take a course on how Language Acquisition happens (almost 20 years), but I recall that we tend to understand much more of a language than we can speak, and I’ve certainly found that to be true recently.
For W’s Fulbright, we spent two months in the Netherlands, and had learned some very basic Dutch using Duolingo before heading over there. I often didn’t understand what people were saying, but I always understood more of what they were saying than I could ever speak myself.
Our first week there, some young people overheard my son saying his favorite Dutch word, “kat,” on the bus. They asked us about our being Americans and then one of them wanted to know if we were full of “kattenkwaad.” We didn’t know this word, and the person who asked didn’t know English well enough to explain it, but his friend tried.
I asked if it meant behaving like a cat, and he indicated not exactly. He tried to explain by example: pushing the stop button on the bus, then not getting off when the bus stopped.
“Oh, like, pranks!” I said.
“Yes, like pranks.”
“Mischievous,” my sister suggested. He wasn’t sure about that one.
Weeks later, I found this book in the shop a short walk from our house:
Google translates this title as “First Aid for Mischief: The Survival Guide for Cat Parents.”
I don’t think it captures the sense entirely, based on our bus conversation, but it’s hard to be sure.
It's over now, the music of the night.
I first encountered music from The Phantom of the Opera when I was 9 years old. I had taken a lip syncing class, because the Leon County, FL gifted program in 1990-91 was awesome, and at the performance where the most effective lip syncers gave a performance, a boy lip synced “Music of the Night,” complete with tux, cape, mask, and hat. (I was not selected for this performance, because the teacher said my performance of “Material Girl” showed that I cared more about the look than about lip syncing well, and she wasn’t wrong.)
I was immediately in love - with the song, with the costume, in my imagination with the lip syncing boy (who had been in a different class from me and who I hadn’t met nor would ever meet).
My mom promptly added the original cast recording to her next Columbia House order.
And the whole show was much bigger than that one song, endearing itself to me more than “Music of the Night” ever could have to me alone.
I stayed obsessed with the Phantom of the Opera. I read Gaston Leroux’s original novel. I read Susan Kay’s Phantom (highly recommend). I read The Phantom of Manhattan (fun but I recommend it not as highly). I went to see it when it came to Raleigh on tour. (1993, I think.) I played the computer game, Return of the Phantom.
When I met W in 1998, our mutual love of Phantom of the Opera was one of the things we first bonded over. That October, I hosted a costumed sing-along of it at my house. He was the Phantom and I was Christine. We did the same thing the following year.
We saw the show together when it came on tour. We saw it when they did a movie theater cast of the show in 2011.
Our son, M, has listened to the first act with me. We looked at The Complete Phantom of the Opera book together as we listened. He was very interested.
Next month, I hope to visit the Palais Garnier and see the places and things that I have only seen in pictures and my imagination so far: the grand staircase, the chandelier, box five.
The Phantom of the Opera has its last Broadway performance today. It’s been hugely important to me, even though I’ve never seen it there. I’m so glad it ran for so long. I know we haven’t seen the last of it in the US.
Turning My Dissertation into a Book in the Open
It’s been almost two years since I defended my doctoral dissertation. Before it was written, an editor had expressed interest in it. After it was written, I was very tired. I just couldn’t touch it. But we are in a critical moment for information literacy, and I think my research has some good contributions to make, so I’m going to start writing a book proposal.
For this project, I will be opening up my process and my reflections but not the content of the book proposal (and, if I get a contract, the book) itself. I’m starting by reading (like I always so). I’m going to read about how to turn a dissertation into a book and I’m also going to get myself up to speed on the FanLIS literature.
Won’t you join me?
Blogging as letters to our future selves
I blog for a lot of reasons. One of them is because blogging is a little like writing letters to your future self.
My current research contract (technically a postdoc) ends in early January. I constantly agonize over what to do next.
But it turns out past me knows what I want to do next. What both past and present me want to do is something I’m still figuring out how to turn into an income.
High Pain Day: Oh yeah, I'm disabled! I had forgotten.
I had my first high-pain day since we came to Europe yesterday (or today, if you’re in the US when I’m writing this).
I think I must have eaten something with cornmeal in it, because my joints and muscles were (and still are, though less so) sore from the moment I woke up.
It was a rough time to walk around Cologne in the cold and rain. I know I complained about the pain often, and I really appreciate my sister, her husband, and my friend Kessie having such patience with me.
We’re in Cologne for another day and I hope if I rest now, I’ll have a better time.
This is such a classic variable disability/chronic illness scenario. Sometimes you’re walking around Aalsmeer in 40 degree weather with no problems, and sometimes you ache with every step and even if you’re lying down. It’s easy to forget you’re disabled at all, until it isn’t.
The tricky thing is that you need rest, but if you’re in pain, it’s hard to sleep.
I'm a piler-filer. Who are you?
Austin Kleon blogs about pilers and filers, a dichotomy/spectrum he learned about reading Temple Grandin’s book, _Visual Thinking _, in which Grandin discusses Linda Silverman’s work:
In a presentation about the differences in learning styles, Silverman flashes a slide showing a person with a tidy file cabinet and a person surrounded by messy piles of paper. The “filer” and the “pilers,” to use her terms. You probably know which one you are. What does it say about the way you think?
All of these “versus” type situations can be rethought as spectrums and/or creative tensions. There are times when I want to access that sequential part of my brain and bring order to things, and filing does that, but there are other times I want to access my visual brain, and piles help.
I am my father’s daughter, which means I’m a piler-filer.
Both my dad and I often have stacks that look like a mess to other people. But when I was a teacher, my colleagues marveled at my ability to run exactly what I needed from one of these piles within seconds.
I also had immaculate file cabinets full of things like student paperwork. I love a label maker.
For me and for my dad, piles are for current projects and files are for reference materials and archives. If something goes into a file before we’re done with it, it ceases to exist until an external event prompts us to track it down, by which point it may be too late for us to have done what we needed to do with it.
This is a panorama of my desk when I was managing editor at LEARN NC. The stacks on the desk and in the standing file were projects in-progress. I filed finished projects in the drawers in the file cabinet/snack station on the left side of the desk.
So. We’re piler-filers. Are you one, the other, or a combination?
How a post ends up on my blog
I wanted to take a moment to share my blogging “process,” which I put in scare quotes because it’s not very refined.
First, I have a thought or encounter something to which I have a response and decide I want to share that thought/response.
Then, I open up Google Docs and type what I want to share into a file called “Current Blog Post Draft.” I mainly do this to avoid losing a post because of a browser or app crash.
I sometimes read over it before posting. Sometimes I post right away.
My posts aren’t reviewed by an editor or even a beta reader. They go out fresh, raw, and often flawed in either form or content. The ideas are sometimes half-baked. I’m sometimes writing in the heat of emotion. I’m going to be wrong sometimes. Perhaps often.
Blogs are tools for thinking. As such, the thoughts expressed in them will not always be our most polished.
This is a personal blog, not a professional publication. I don’t mean for it to be anything but a personal blog and portfolio.
Thanks for reading it.
Quiet Time in Aalsmeer
Our second week in the Netherlands has been quiet so far. Exactly a week after we got here, I came down with a cough that has developed into a pretty standard respiratory virus. The COVID self-test was negative. This wasn’t a surprise because the rate of infection here is vanishingly small. Aalsmeer has about 32,000 inhabitants. One of them has tested positive this week.
Meanwhile in Amsterdam, 13 out of about 903,000 people reported positive tests last week.
For the purposes of comparison, that’s 1.2 cases per 100,000 people over 7 days. At home, there were 153 new cases per 100,000 people last week.
I know ground water numbers are more reliable but I struggle to interpret them, so this is what I use to determine risk.
So, it’s probably not COVID given the low incidence of COVID here and the negative test.
I’ve still felt pretty crappy, so I’ve been sleeping a ton. ME, M, and I ventured out to the Grote Poel (the large pool) of the Westeindeplassen. The humidity outside really helps my breathing but I have to be careful not to overexert myself.
Today both ME & M are feeling poorly.
In the meantime, W has been into the city a couple times and loved exploring. I’m looking forward to getting the whole family there next week once we’re all back on our feet. It always takes at least an hour to get there from the village.
(When we booked the house, there was a bus that went directly to the airport train station but they changed the routes right before we came so it doesn’t run anymore. This adds one or two transfers to every trip.)
I guess people really want to know about what food you get when you travel. We mostly buy groceries and prepare our own food, so we haven’t tried anything extra Dutch besides stroopwaffels. Those are delicious.
The eggs here are super fresh and excellent. They have all the produce you might expect. They have a mix of Dutch brands and other brands. Froot Loops are Unicorn Froot Loops. We eat a lot of Nature Valley granola bars. There is, of course, immense variety in the cheese available.
That’s the latest here. I hope to be more adventurous soon!
Our first 60 hours in Europe
In case you missed it: my husband, W, received a Fulbright award to study European & transatlantic copyright harmonization, especially with respect to fair use/fair dealing. M and I are accompanying him. My sister ME is here as well serving as a mother’s helper for the first couple of months so I can actually do my job. (After she leaves, W and I will trade off childcare time.)
We’re currently based in Aalsmeer, a town closer to Amsterdam than Chapel Hill is to Durham. (That distance means more to people from our hometown than it will to other people but I thought it might be a useful comparison.) The University of Amsterdam is Will’s Fulbright host. He’ll interview scholars there as well as in Maastricht.
Because his award is specifically a Fulbright-Schuman award, his research is international, so we’ll also be visiting Helsinki and Rovaniemi in Finland, Bonn in Germany, and Brussels in Belgium.
In March, we’ll leave Aalsmeer and travel the UK and Ireland so he can interview scholars there. We’ll finish up in Paris and head home before Memorial Day.
We left the US Monday evening and arrived in Amsterdam Tuesday morning, then road a train and a bus and walked about 600 meters to the house where we’re staying.
I already love it here. Harbor cities always make me happy. I’m delighted by all the canals.
Also, the roads: buses have a completely separate set of lanes divided from the car lanes and so do bikes. Aalsmeer is a very walkable town.
Yesterday we briefly went into Amsterdam proper for our appointment with immigration. UvA is used to international scholars sticking around, so they’re following all their normal processes with us including getting us set up with Dutch identification numbers and everything.
Because we are using public transportation, it takes us about an hour to get into town. I already feel disappointed that we haven’t explored more but I have to remind myself that we haven’t even been here for 72 hours yet and I was in immense pain after the flights here.
More to come. For now, have a picture from the chocolate shop near our house.
How I Begin
In Austin Kleon’s paid newsletter post today, he asked his readers, to share how we begin.
I opened by saying, “I don’t know how I begin.” Then I proceeded to describe how I begin.
Because the biggest projects in my life have been scholarly writing projects, I thought about those. I thought about the most recent one, my dissertation, and the oldest one, my Master’s paper.
I realized that for both of these, I had a sunshine-soaked AHA! moment when I knew: this was the topic I was going to write about, this was the research I was going to do.
But then I thought about it, and that wasn’t the beginning for the dissertation. (It may have been for the Master’s paper. I don’t remember.)
In my PhD program, writing a comprehensive literature review that demonstrated our familiarity with the state of our research area was a major milestone. I went into this process with no clear research question or idea, just a set of topics that interested me. I don’t remember all of them, but they included makerspaces in libraries, gaming in libraries, and connected learning, among other things. I wrote two or three chapters of this lit review (one for each topic), flailing about, no research plan in mind, just getting familiar with the literature.
But this flailing was part of my process! I arrived at my dissertation topic by reading someone else’s dissertation and deciding to answer one of the questions she posed as a possibility for future research!
And yet, I had read her dissertation before that sun-soaked day.
What was different upon this reading?
What was different was that I had been living the night before, not working. (Work is a part of life but you know how it’s easy to forget to do all the parts of life that aren’t work? Or at least to berate yourself for not focusing on work all the time? If you’ve ever been a grad student, you know what I’m talking about.)
The night before my sun-soaked AHA!, I had gone to a concert. A video game concert. Where I saw cosplayers who inspired me. And it was putting together the dissertation I read with the inspiration I felt at that concert that led me to my dissertation topic: how cosplayers find, evaluate, use, and share information.
So these are the ingredients in my process:
- Read what other people have written, especially keeping an eye out for interesting questions that I might want to anwer. What do I read? Whatever seems interesting.
- Do interesting things that aren’t work.
- Sit in the sun and think.
If I skip any of these three steps, I struggle to begin.
Tarot: My Year Ahead
I’m taking Lindsay Mack’s tarot class called The Threshold. Here’s my reading for the year ahead. Four major arcana - huge!
This whole spread fits with what’s going on with me. We leave for W’s Fulbright on Monday and hoping to do a lot of internal work while we’re away, vibing with the Hermit.
One of the things I’m struggling with is feeling a sense of purpose. I feel like Judgment combined with the Hermit gives me big “Show Yourself” (from Frozen 2) vibes - “You are the one you’ve been waiting for all of your life.” I have to look to myself for purpose. All the career quizzes and analysis of my 10th house in the world isn’t going to get me where listening to the quiet voice in myself will.
In being invited to give up the Sun, I see myself letting go of the need for bright, external, paternal clarity. It’s time to dwell in shadow for a while, to live in the murky and liminal.
With Temperance, I’m moving towards integration, integrity, my whole self being welcome in every part of my life. I think this will be key for the work I’m doing with the Hermit and Judgment.
And finally, the Ten of Pentacles: a reminder that I already have an abundant life, and that this abundance can carry me through the quiet and seeking.
Deck is the Wayhome Tarot.
A Dispatch from the Threshold of 2023 🚪🎇
I don’t know if I’ll get to do all the year-end/new year transition things I’d hoped to do today: tarot stuff, bullet journal migration. I need a nap and my right wrist is hurting and I think my left will soon follow. But guess what? Listening to my body is a great way to mark this transition.
Instead of one word for 2023, I have two:
ADVENTURE + REST
Tomorrow I’ll share more about my intentions for the year with Leigh Bardugo’s Begin As You Mean to Go On and Kim Werker’s Year of Making. But I have three intentions for the new year:
- Read for pleasure.
- Make things.
- Take walks.
More on those tomorrow.
And I want to keep moving toward living in alignment with my core values:
That’s all for now. I’ll share more soon.
My Reading Year 2022, Part Deux
I’m calling it for the year. I’m not going to try to squeeze one more in before the end of the day tomorrow. When I wrote my year in reading post on December 2, I’d read 46 books this year. I’ve read 5 more since. I’ve also got a nifty new Micro.blog plug-in that will show you the covers of all the books I read.
Not a lot has changed in terms of my favorites since that original post. Hildafolk and The Bloody Chamber continue to be standouts. I’m very happy to be caught up on Leigh Bardugo just in time to get behind again when my preorder for Hell Bent comes in.
Season of Love is a recent favorite. Raybearer was super compelling and as I’ve started the sequel, that’ll probably be my next finished read.
I’ve got Bloodmarked on hold but it’s a wait of about 14 weeks. (I’m going to buy the paperback when it comes out so it’ll match my copy of Legendborn.)
Here’s all the books I read this year:
Moderating my own smartphone use (but still not belonging in the Luddite club)
I thought, given my heavy criticism of the potential perspective that we should all join the Luddite club, it might be useful to discuss my own smartphone use and the steps I take to moderate it.
Let me start by saying that I know in the case of addictive behavior, moderation is sometimes not an option. I have no objection to people recognizing that they are in this situation and opting out of smartphone use, or potentially any Internet use at all. You’ve got to do what’s right for you.
My objection is to people who might suggest that what’s right for the Luddite club is right for everyone with a smartphone.
Don’t want a smartphone? Cool! Get rid of yours if you have one! Never get one if you don’t!
I myself vacillate wildly between intense use to the point of it disturbing my sleep (not good, obvs) and more instrumental use that is less disruptive to the rest of my life.
When I start to notice intense use - or when something like the Luddite club article prompts me to consider my own use - there are a few techniques I rely on to curb my use and help me moderate.
For a long time, my default was to work my way through this Better Humans article, Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You. It links an Android version at the end, but the principles work for any smartphone, regardless of OS. This is a time consuming process and actually in the name of habit change and productivity involves adding apps I almost never use, so I have stopped going through the full process. I’ll sometimes Google around for other ideas about turning smartphones into tools (as opposed to toys or distraction), and use what I learn in those, too.
Here are the things I do, divided into almost always and sometimes categories.
Turn off almost all notifications. I get notifications for calls, texts, and maps. That’s it. Corollary: I almost always have my phone on vibrate or silent, so even those notifications don’t disturb me.
Avoid social media apps. As much as possible, if I’m going to use social media, I do it through the browser. Occasionally I’ll need a feature like putting up a story on Instagram when I was on the UC Irvine Strike Solidarity Team’s Social Media Team and was contributing to that Instagram account. But I usually uninstall pretty rapidly after that.
Turn on Do Not Disturb. I’m in Do Not Disturb mode, with only starred contacts allowed through, unless I’m expecting a call from someone who isn’t a starred contact (like my doctor or a contractor who’s coming to work on the house). Starred contacts include family members and my kid’s school. That’s it.
Use no wallpaper + a black background OR Austin Kleon’s Read a Book Instead wallpaper. Pretty self-explanatory.
Turn off Raise to Wake. I have to push a button to turn my phone on and put in a code to see anything on it. (I just switched from a swipe to a numerical code in order to add a little more friction.)
Use bedtime mode at night. Most of the time, I have the phone in black and white with even more notifications blocked than usual, between 7:30 pm and 7:30 am. If I’m up in the night and want to watch something or play something on my phone, I try to leave bedtime mode on and do it in black and white. This only helps some, though.
Use Firefox Focus as my browser. When I’m getting way too deep into Internet rabbit holes, which I usually do in Chrome, I disable Chrome and switch to Firefox Focus. It doesn’t remember my log-ins, so I have to log in to each site I visit every time I visit it. It doesn’t keep a history, so I have to either search for or manually type in URLs. Sometimes, I need the affordances of Chrome, and I switch it back on. I haven’t figured out how to copy and paste in Focus yet.
Remove everything from my home screen. I usually have a pretty sparse home screen, but sometimes I remove everything from it. I’m not sure this is very effective though because then I tend to pull up the app drawer and scroll through all the apps, including some distracting ones like the browser, to get to the thing I want. So sometimes I’m more strategic and drop my most frequently used useful apps, like Google Keep and anything related to books or podcasts, on my home screen.
Use bedtime mode all day. Having the phone be in black and white makes it less appealing.
In the future
I still am in the bad habit of checking my phone first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, and any time I get up in the night. So I’ll be working on that.
Maybe we don't all need to join the Luddite club.
I have some thoughts about the Luddite club.
First, I don’t have a problem with people switching to flip phones. I do have a problem with the implication it makes them morally superior to people who use smartphones.
I think one of my biggest problems with the article is the feel of the writing: a sense of awe, a focus on fashion, a vibe that reads to me like “Ooh isn’t it amazing that these kids wear Doc Martens and read books?”
I fully support the desire to break free of slot machine dopamine hit features of social media. But here are activities that, in the article, read as though they require giving up your smartphone but that I, a person with a smartphone, sometimes do:
- Close my eyes outside
- Read books
- Borrow books from the library
- Go to parks
- Fall asleep away from the glow of my phone
- Read in hammocks
I’m glad teens do these things. And if they can only do them without smartphones, okay. But let’s not act like these activities are inaccessible to people with smartphones.
One of the most concerning things is the veneration these kids seem to feel for Chris McCandless. One of them says, “…that guy was experiencing life. Real life.” But actually, what he experienced was death. This dude might have been sympathetic but I know I don’t want my kid holding him up as a role model. If you’re going to go off the grid, learn how to take care of yourself BEFORE you get there.
I’m also not convinced that this is the beginning of a social movement. The founder of the club was discouraged when people suggested it was classist, but she says, “[my advisor] told me most revolutions actually start with people from industrious backgrounds, like Che Guevara.” I think the word we might be looking for here rather than “industrious” is “privileged,” “middle class,” “bourgeois,” or “capitalist.” But also, Che Guevara was motivated by witnessing other people’s misery and took action directed at alleviating it. I hope Luddite club kids use some of their screen-free time to benefit others. The article doesn’t make it clear whether they do, so I don’t know how apt the comparison to Guevara is.
Meg Pillow pointed out that for some of us, social media has been a great way to expand our awareness beyond our own experiences, to escape a filter bubble. One of the kids quoted in the article said, “Being in this club reminds me we’re all living on a floating rock and that it’s all going to be OK.” But when I read this, it made me think that without some other way of learning about the world, this is simple escapism. Are the Luddite club kids listening to the radio? Reading independent newspapers? Watching public television? How do they learn about the world beyond their schools and club, about the world that’s not printed about in classic or mainstream printed texts?
The most honest part of the article seemed to me to be when the founder of the club said that she likes that her parents are addicted to their smartphones, “because I get to feel a little superior to them.” This is developmentally right on track for a high school senior. I’m pretty sure these kids in the Luddite club will be fine. But I think we adults need to look a little deeper at what’s going on before deciding we should model our own lives on theirs or pressure our kids to do likewise.
'Wednesday' is full of "Whoa." 📺
I just finished the first episode of Wednesday. I have so many thoughts and feelings.
First, I’ve seen criticism that the Addams Family works best when you have the whole family. (Sadly, I can’t find the link to where I read this right now.) I completely agree but the decision to rely on the trope of a teen rebelling against their parents means any family time here is very tense. So I don’t want the whole family together because they’re not as loving as I’m used to.
As Emmet Asher-Perrin points out, the Addams Family movies are all about family as a safe haven, on the unconditional not just love, but positive regard they have for their children. That vibe isn’t present here.
(I’ll mention at this point that I haven’t seen the recent animated Addams Family movies, and that I shunned the musical because a huge part of the premise was Wednesday wanting to be normal for a boy and that’s just… not very Wednesday.)
Jenna Ortega is brilliant. She perfectly revives My Generation’s Wednesday (what’s my generation? Xennials I guess?). Her delivery is beautiful. Her physicality is on point (🤺).
I really appreciate the Christina Ricci cameo. She’s adorable.
I love how this feels like a goth Veronica Mars. I’ve seen comparisons to Riverdale, but at least in the first season, Jughead’s narration is reportage, not reflection. He is wryly commenting on the corruption in his town. In contrast, Veronica and Wednesday give us interiority that isn’t self-indulgent.
It has me thinking about what bell hooks has to say about confessional writing, how perception of it is gendered. I’ve been reading remembered rapture lately.
I can’t deal with the family tension and all of the school bits are sort of… just being the cliche rather than commenting on it?
We’ve seen this roommate dynamic in Wicked (I may have started singing “Loathing” to myself when Wednesday and Enid met). There doesn’t seem to be a new take on it here.
Also: the embrace of the supernatural beyond the Addams’s immediate circle feels a little off to me here. In Charles Addams’s comics and in the 90s movies, the world was pretty normal. To suddenly have a school full of vampires, werewolves, gorgons, and sirens feels not exactly random, but out of place.
On this note: Thing. Thing has scars, Frankenstein’s creature style, and I don’t love it. I think because a disembodied hand is enough weird. It requires no additional weird.
The costumes are wonderful. The exterior view of the school makes me super happy.
I’ll give it a few more episodes but giving the Addams Family the Riverdale treatment with a Harry Potter setting, Doyle/Cordelia-on-Angel visions, and a more-Veronica Mars-than-Jughead voiceover feels mostly like trying to do too many things at one time.
(Also, I’ve seen comparisons to Nancy Drew, Buffy, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch but none to VMars, which feels super weird to me.)
On being an escribitionist
In November, when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get 50,000 words of writing done, I decided to try writing 750 words a day using the website 750words.com. I enjoyed doing morning pages this way. The traditional writing-in-a-notebook way tends to give me hand or wrist pain. But I was using the new site, and after a streak hiccup, I realized that it wasn’t quite the write tool for me. I actually do better without streak tracking, because if I mess up (and I didn’t, their system didn’t save my 750 words even though I’d written them), my perfectionism has me go NEVER MIND!
So I decided to use a combo of my Google Calendar to send me an email reminder like 750 words does and Scrivener to set up a journal where each entry had a 750 word target. That went well, for a while, until I hit a day when I just didn’t feel like it. And I gave myself permission not to. And that was fine, too.
I got back into it but overtime it just felt like… not quite what I was looking for. I would write things in there, and then I would think I had said those things to someone, but I hadn’t. And I realized that private journaling is great and valuable, but if I’m looking to be motivated to keep up a regular practice, I want an audience. (Can you tell I’m an obliger?)
I’m not a journaler. I’m not a diarist. I am an escribitionist. I have been for over 20 years. So if I want to keep up a writing process, blogging is the best way to do it.
I also really appreciate blogging as a mode of thinking, as a way of finding out what I think. When I write for no audience, words come out, but they don’t have sticking power in my mind. I do best when my ideas are things I can talk out with another person, even if that other person is a silent reader. I love having my blog as a tool I can refer to when I need help, a place where advice from my past self bubbles up for me.
So hi. I’m trying out daily blogging, again. I’m not setting a word target. I’m not going to stress if I miss a day. But this is my plan, to get something a little more deliberate than a quick note written every day.
How to feel like myself
My kid’s best friend’s mom got a new job and isn’t starting it until January, but has already left her old job. She has all of December to just be, with her kid in school for the first two weeks.
I told her that sounded amazing.
She said, “I feel like… I feel like myself. I was going to say I feel like a whole new person, but really I feel like myself.”
I said, “I want to feel like myself. I’ve gotta figure out how to do that.”
2022 feels like a year that was stolen from my whole family of origin, thanks to my mom’s leukemia and paraplegia. My mom has obviously had an incredibly hard year. My dad is learning what it is to be a primary caregiver at almost 70 years old and it’s a very different life than he’s ever known before. My brother has gone from being cared for to needing to give care to. My sister and I have both experienced frequent chronic illness flares.
In the spring, I resented the flowers for blooming. Didn’t they know my mom had leukemia? I didn’t do any of my normal springtime stuff.
In the summer, I made a whole plan to achieve summer vibes, but I only really did it halfheartedly.
In the fall, my mom was in the ER about once a week, with an extended hospital stay due to the cognitive effects of a medication reaction. Halloween was fun but I didn’t appreciate the gorgeous weather nearly enough.
And now Winter Is Coming 🐺, and I am realizing for the first time that I have always been A Christmas Person, but when we were decorating our tree I suddenly got very grouchy. Because of how different this year is and will be.
This is not just me sharing the bad — it’s me elucidating the things that have made me feel Not Me.
In a very Me move, to figure out what feels like me I went to my blog archives to see how I was coping in year 2 of the pandemic, before my mom got leukemia.
How to Feel Like Myself
Books & Reading
- Share quotes from what I’m reading.
- Read lots of books in a variety of formats & genres, but come back home to fantasy frequently.
- Talk to other people about what we’re reading & what else we might want to read.
- Read & write fanfic, especially for sitcoms and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Read a lot of interesting articles.
- Re-read Austin Kleon’s books.
Health & Wellness
- Blog about my experiences with chronic illness.
- Blog about my research.
- Gather references for a cosplay but don’t make it yet.
TV & Movies
- Watch holiday rom-coms.
- Watch Star Trek.
- Introduce my kid to older kids TV.
- Blog about what I’m watching.
- Think about cool possibilities for the web, mostly late at night.
- Take occasional breaks from social stuff.
Uh oh, I’m doing me things and I still don’t feel like myself
I’m reading, especially fantasy. I’m watching holiday rom-coms and Star Trek. I introduced my kid to Wishbone 🐶. Why don’t I feel like myself?
The Missing Piece
I’m not reflecting, blogging, and talking to people. Metacognition is key to Kimberlying and I have let it get away from me. Time to get back to it.
My Reading Year, 2022 📚
Everybody is doing their year-end stuff, so I thought I’d do mine.
I read 46 books this year including comics/graphic novels and poetry. About 12 of those were graphic novels or poetry and another 2 or 3 were short story or novella collections. This puts me right about where my usual average for longer works is, around 30 books. I don’t set quantitative reading goals anymore besides reading one more book than I’ve read so far in a given year.
My reading this year was heavily influenced by the microgenres/aesthetics of cozy fantasy, adventurecore, and woodland goth.
I sought out cozy fantasy and adventurecore in particular because I wanted my reading to comfort me.
I joined the Atlas Obscura book club on Literati, because Austin Kleon stopped running his book club. I only finished two of the 5 books I got, but I look forward to finishing the ones I didn’t. I love the curation but the monthly format doesn’t really work for me and I wasn’t making the kinds of connections to other readers that I’d hoped to.
I started to list my favorite books I’ve read this year but the list got too long. I loved the Hildafolk series and The Bloody Chamber.
I began the year with the intention to get caught up on Leigh Bardugo’s backlist, and I only have one book to go, The Rule of Wolves. I started that this week, so I hope to finish before the year is out and be caught up just in time for the release of the new Alex Stern book.
I think that’s all I have to share about my reading this year. How did your reading year go?
The lyrics from Disney's Disenchanted that make me sob. 🎵
Spoilers for lyrics from Disenchanted follow. Without context they only mean a little but if you’re avoiding spoilers, just move along…
Are you ready to be spoiled?
It’s how I’d make a world for you
That never breaks your heart
Where you can grow and thrive
And your every wish can flower
I will always love you, Morgan
I’m so proud of how I know you’ll carry on
I’ve known a lot of magic in my life
But never anything as strong
My love for you has power
And you’ll have it there inside you
When I’m gone
These lyrics make me sob as a mother AND as a daughter because of course this is what I want for my kid but the “When I’m gone” part hits extra hard when your mom has leukemia and chemo/TKI complications you know?
This is a big cry I’ve been saving up since January as I kept it together for everybody else.
Okay, time for me to go strike now.
A letter to my past self circa 1997
I’m just going to jump right in.
Remember E’s cute boyfriend and how you noticed she seems to not be dating him anymore and you think that’s kinda sad? Don’t be sad. YOU’RE MARRIED TO HIM NOW. I mean, you’ll marry him in 2009.
You’ll have a beautiful kid with him in 2016. The kid has long eyelashes and says delightful things. You had him later than you expected but he’s worth the wait, I promise.
Hey guess what neighborhood you live in starting in 2011? W! That’s where rich people live, you say? Well, two things: 1. It’s actually where a broad range of middle class people live and 2. you definitely would think of the household you live in by 2022 as rich. Y’all could eat Lunchables and Fruit Roll-ups and drink Capri Sun Every Day if you wanted to. (But you won’t, it would create way too much trash.)
You have a PhD (2021) and your job is to read, write, and talk to librarians. ON THE INTERNET. I know, right? Pretty sweet gig.
There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world right now (2022) - global health stuff, political stuff, war stuff, climate change stuff (that’s what we call global warming right now because it’s more accurate). Also, some family illness stuff. I know that doesn’t feel new, and it’s not, but it’s still a lot.
And yet in spite of those difficulties, on the micro level, your life is AMAZING.
Just wanted to let you know.
What feels like your people?
I have a lot of friends, but the circle of friends I think of as my people is much smaller. If I make a list, it’s probably maybe 10 or so people right now, though the circle has porous boundaries.
This morning I sent something Austin Kleon wrote to a friend with the note “This seems like something you’d appreciate.” Sometimes my friends send me things that remind them of me.
Sometimes there’s an obvious reason, like when anyone sends my sister red panda stuff or me mermaid things.
But my favorite times are when it’s about a vibe. That feels to me like accessing the ineffable core of a relationship that I always imagine you can only get at after a very intense initial period of friendship, unless you happen to be friends with a literal horse, in which case it happens instantly because horses just understand you.
There’s a sort of distance that I think makes this kind of thing easier. My dearest friends all live far away. I think it facilitates finding this kind of thing. I want to be in the lookout for more opportunities to do it for my most inner circle, my innest circle? My spouse, my child, my household of origin.
Do your people have vibes that give you shortcuts to letting them know you’re thinking of them?